A soldier by trade, “Mad Jack” Churchill came alive when there was a fight to be won.
But aside from his charisma, perhaps what differentiated Churchill from his fellow soldiers was his choice of weaponry — a longbow and a traditional basket-hilted Scottish sword known as a claybeg.
When asked about his desire for carrying a sword into modern combat, Churchill said, “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”
A Silent Death
Churchill used his sword to rally troops around him as he rushed headfirst into battle.
When it came time to take the French town of l’Epinette in 1940, though, he sought a different approach…a longbow.
After he positioned his men behind a wall in preparation for the raid, Churchill saw a German patrolman.
Moments later, he launched an arrow at the soldier, striking him in the heart and killing him. Churchill’s men then opened fire, eventually helping take l’Epinette.
That was the last recorded wartime longbow kill in modern history.
Storm of Steel
Churchill didn’t abandon his sword. He used the claybeg to take a German position in Sicily. And he used only the claybeg.
Under the cover of darkness, Churchill and one other soldier crept up on a duo of Germans they spotted digging an entrenchment. Brandishing his sword, Churchill convinced the men to surrender.
Churchill then went from entrenchment to entrenchment convincing the other German soldiers to surrender as well.
By night’s end, two Brits with a sword captured 42 Germans.
A Slippery Soldier
Eventually, the enemy caught up with him after a lone mortar round knocked him unconscious.
Churchill was captured and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
He escaped just a few days later by crawling under the barbed wire by a nearby drain.
Churchill then walked all the way to the Baltic coast…but was eventually captured near the city of Rostock.
From there, he was hauled off to a camp once again — this time in Niederdorf, Austria.
But that didn’t hold him for long.
When the lighting system went out at Niederdorf, Churchill simply walked off into the darkness.
With a small can of onions under his jacket, he made his way towards the Alps, walking 93 miles. He pillaged local gardens along the way and used the tin can as a cooking pot.
Eventually, he made it to Verona, Italy, where he met up with an American convoy.
After meeting up with the Americans, Churchill prepared to ship out to fight in Japan. But atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war.
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